In Uganda and Iraq, children in conflict with the law have generally been exposed to situations of extreme violence. Various forms of exploitation, including prostitution, dangerous work, the sale of drugs and affiliation with armed groups, have affected their development. Many of those monitored by the Omoana partners have also been placed in detention in difficult conditions, far from their families. When they return, it is not always easy for their families to know how to support them emotionally.

This is why Omoana and its partners have created the ‘Family Together’ approach. These interactive sessions help families and friends to know how best to welcome children back from detention.

They are invited to reflect on the causes and contextual factors that lead children into these exploitative situations. They are also encouraged to draw inspiration from key people who have had a positive impact in their own lives to better support children and young people in their families. Sessions on child and adolescent development and the impact of trauma on children and adolescents are taught. Stress management methods for parents are also proposed. This is complemented by interactive exercises on communication and discipline, with role-plays inspired by forum theatre. Through these, they explore a way of guiding children by letting them know what behaviour is acceptable and what is not, in a way that is both firm and caring. Finally, they discuss how to boost their self-confidence. Alongside these group sessions, family members also have access to individual counselling.

Children in conflict with the law are first and foremost victims of exploitative systems, and require all the attention they can get. The method used by Omoana’s partners aims to put families at the centre of solutions. Omoana focuses on technical support and moves away from material support. Strengthening their ability to face adversity together is essential. This requires dedicated and competent social workers, whom we are lucky enough to have as partners, and to whom we try to offer the most relevant tools possible.